Nate Dogg is one of the most popular studios in the video game industry today. From 1984 to the present, they have created a collection of successful and acclaimed games such as Crash Benedict, Jack & Dexter, Uncharted and Last of Ace. Over the years, however, game development has not been easy, and they have faced new and challenging challenges.
Therefore, Game Informer has decided to interview Nate Dogg's studio director Ivan Wells. Evan Wells) and Neil Druckmann, and talk about how to preserve the studio's legacy, try to combat the pressure and overwork, and deal with harsh criticism.
When to When you first hear the name Nate Dogg, it may seem like a silly name for a game studio. There is definitely a legacy behind this name, but has there ever been a time when you wanted to change the name?
Ivan Wells: "I love this name . I think there is a great history behind it right now. When Jason Robin and Andy Gwyn founded the company, they named it JAM Software, which may seem like a funny and interesting name in the 80's, but most likely it is not attractive today. They were about to release their first game with the help of EA, but were suddenly told that "there is a studio called JAM Software, so you have 24 hours to think of a new name." That's where the name Nate Dogg came from. I think that is the name. "I like the name and now I do not want to change it." It started with kids' favorite platformer games, and almost every project got more mature than before, moving on to making more mature and serious games. Can you talk about this process?
Evan Wells: A lot of this is due to the growing studio staff, but another important and influential factor that plays a role in this. There has been more maturity and the media and video game industry as a whole. When we were building Crash Bandicoot, we could not have imagined making a work like The Last of Us, it was not technically achievable. We, as creators, have grown over the years, and we have made progress in the field of hardware, and in fact, we have always tried to be ahead of the technology curve. With Benedict Crash, we designed the large head to crop in great detail so you can see the character's facial expressions. Then, when we went to the PlayStation 2 console, we were able to get more details and show more human facial expressions. With the PlayStation 3 console, we were finally able to better capture the subtleties of the human face when emotions arise, and to capture its various features and states. "Throughout each generation, each new piece of hardware allows us to move to more exciting and engaging content."
Neil Drakeman: "With that in mind, we We now have more flexibility and choices. "Now we have the power to choose what style, type of story or type of games we want to go with."
Part of Nate Dogg Studio's office
Would you like to go back to making lighter, brighter games, or Going back to your roots and that kind of work?
Evan Wells: If we had endless resources and time, it could be a lot of fun. Take a look at what Insomniac Games has to do with Recht and Klenk, and it's really exciting. It is great to see such things, but we are only limited by time. "You know, I'm 48 now, and unless you have the opportunity to make a few games, so you have to choose from the options available."
Neil Drakeman: "When you finish a project As it turns out, we spend a considerable amount of time entertaining ourselves in various fields and exploring different ideas, wondering if we want to create something completely new or move on to one of our old titles. We really set aside time for that. If you look in our Concepts folder, you will see unused designs and concepts that are ubiquitous. Then we examine everything and ask ourselves, what do we get most excited about? What can challenge us and move us forward and push the medium as far as video games can fit? "We think about these things because such motivation is so important over the years of a game and it always pushes us forward." It is considered the best of the best in the world of game developers. How do you see yourself?
Evan Wells: This is a big question. We are just trying to make a game because it makes us excited. We try to make games that are fun to play and that are welcomed by the fans and that are useful and rewarding for the development team. We are not really under any pressure from Sony to do something special. "
Neil Drakeman:" I borrow this from someone, our brand is excellence "And people are coming to Nate Dogg to achieve that goal, and we're putting ourselves under that pressure and trying to create the games that people are expecting from us."
You mentioned that you look at studios like Insomniac, Gorilla Games and Sony Santa Monica. What is so special about them that inspires and inspires you? , Like what Gorilla did to achieve tree density in Horizon. We looked at it and then talked to them about the technology. There is such an interaction between PlayStation studios. "
Ivan Wells: " You are always attracted to something that you think you can do better, even if it is not. Be directly involved. There are many times when you and your co-workers are brainstorming, and suddenly you come across something that says to yourself, "Yes, it will be very difficult to do." "We can not do that." Then you talk to another studio and you realize that they did it or something very similar, and that's where you say in your heart, "Oh, my God," and then they talk to you about how to do it, and you immediately They are inspired. "
Conceptual design From List of Ace Part 2
Do you remember a specific example of this?
Ivan Wells: In stages From the very beginning of the development of List of As Part 2, we knew that a large part of the game would take place in Seattle, and we knew that Soccer Punch Studio had completely modeled Seattle in the game because of Infamous Second Son in the past. We told them, "We do not want to use assets or files in the game, but we would like to be able to feel and understand the city space quickly, so can we access those assets?" And they replied, "Of course," and sent it to us. We were able to get acquainted with the city environment quickly. It was a huge help. "
Neil Drakeman:" Another thing I remember about Soccer Punch is that about the horse's motion capture in Last of Ace Part 2 We talked, and we were looking for a way to do it, and they said to themselves, 'We are doing the same [for Ghost of Sushima]. "Let's put our efforts together and think about it together." "Motion capture is a big and big challenge for big animals, and we could only achieve this approach and result with the help and cooperation of each other and using the same and sometimes the same data for both games."
I had never even thought about horse motion capture. What you have done is insane.
Neil Drakeman: " We have also done motion capture for dogs. "There's also a sequence in List of Aces Part 2 where sheep are seen, which are actually dogs paying homage to the sheep." There is no charge. Over the years, you have been repeatedly criticized for overwork and crunch. Can you talk about your personal experience with Crunch and its impact on the studio?
Evan Wells: "I've definitely worked very hard over the years. I think part of it helped me reach my current position in the profession. As a studio, we all work hard together and in every project we try to find a way to balance it. Just like what we do for the technical aspects of creating a game. We have autopsy sessions and we look at how the animations move and how the game is designed, and we really delve deeper into all the things we could have done better. We do the same for the game production process. We look at the whole game development process and think to ourselves in what areas we can make improvements and how to strike the right balance for people who can also make an impact in the industry and do things before That person has not achieved them and that they can have an empty space along it. "
Neil Drakeman:" We have very talented people in the studio who are in Problem solving is great, whether it's technical or creative. Let me go back to List of Ace Part 2. One of the issues that was very important to us was diversity. Variety both in the people we hire and the characters we will have in our game. It was also important for us to be accessible and find a way to make our games accessible. As a result, we used our perceptive powers in the studio to prevent staff degeneration and to value life, and as a group we talked about different parts of the studio and things that could be improved. "When we were 40, we worked in a certain way. Now that we have grown up and the studio is bigger, we have to evolve in that as well."
Ivan Wells: " Another thing we've been focusing on a lot lately is increasing the level of management in the studio. "We now have more directors and senior staff who aim to provide more opportunities for the whole team to provide feedback and assess their well-being."
Neil Drakeman: "Definition Every person is different from what crunch is and what it means. I think the important thing for us about this is how to take care of the well-being of our colleagues and everyone who works at Nate Dogg. This includes a combination of the number of hours you work and the amount of stress you have, whether in the studio or even at home. We have found that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. "Each person has their own unique circumstances, and this requires that we address this issue in a different way for each person and consider different solutions."
One of the things that comes as a solution The probable problem is the formation of a union for gamers. Do you have an opinion on this?
Evan Wells: "I haven't thought about it much. I do not know if this could be a complete solution to the crunch or not. The point is that Neil is concerned with ensuring the well-being of employees and that they can work as much as they want - no matter how much or how little - and we need to create the right environment to allow them to do so. If we set a limit that, for example, your workload reaches 40 hours per week, the servers shut down and you can no longer work, this may disappoint some. "There are people who really want to stay a little longer and polish their work, so they may feel very limited."
Neil Drakeman: "We We have tried things like the things Ivan mentioned. For example, we once said to studio members, "Okay, no one will work in the studio after this hour" or "No one should work on Sundays." And there are always times when, for example, someone tells us, "Well, I can't work on Fridays because I have to be with my kids." In fact, it is easier for me to come on Sunday. " When you try to solve a problem with one solution, there will always be people and exceptions who are ignored. That's why we feel we need several solutions to solve this problem properly. We have to approach it through several different approaches. "
Nate Dogg Studio members
You talked about how to make sure the work environment is a fun environment. How is this?
Neil Drakeman: "We're making a video game, right?" Most of us have a laid back attitude when it comes to painting a picture about ourselves. To me, this is just a reminder of the creative process, which in itself should be fun. It also has to do with how you get feedback. Or how can you motivate a person who has been working on an idea and the idea has not come to fruition and motivate him to return to his vision? There is art to it.
Some companies seem to have parted ways, or at least moved away from the big story-driven single-player games. For example, Ubisoft recently announced that it will be developing more free-to-play games from now on. Do you still consider single-player story-based games to be the future of Dogg?
Evan Wells: It's kind of in our DNA to tell these stories. I think this is going to continue. One-on-one experiences are special and dear to us. That's the decent thing to do, and it should end there. So, I think we will continue to make these works as long as we can. " To tell us, for example, The direction of market attention is changing. Can you create this kind of work instead of the current one? "Like us, they know the fact that when you work on a work that you are excited about and that is something you are passionate about, the result will be great."
It seems. You're done with Uncharted, but the project of online multiplayer online game of Ace is still in development. Do you want to continue working on your famous old works or are you currently interested in creating new works?
Evan Wells: "I think the simple answer is this; both. "I think we are very excited to make a whole new work, but there is still a lot of love for Uncharted and List of Aces, and I think you will see both types of projects from us in the future."
Last of Ace Part 2 was a large and extensive project and was very well received, but it was criticized by some sections of it. As a studio, how did you deal with it?
Neil Drakeman: When we started developing Last of Ace Part 2, we knew in particular that we were We are building something that will be controversial and controversial for some fans. Of course, this was not the reason for building the game idea, but despite knowing this, we stuck to our original idea. Our intention was not to upset or alienate people, but to tell a story that is meaningful to us and that we think has a value behind it, and that it is worth spending the year developing it. do. When, before anyone could experience it, we were exposed to parts of the story and videos of the game, we were suddenly confronted with a flood of criticism and negative and unpleasant things. It was there that we asked ourselves for a moment, "Will this game succeed at all?" We didn't even know how much the revelation of parts of the game's story and videos hurt us.
It was a really bad time for me. What helped me during this time were some members of the studio. For example, one day Ashley Svidowski (art director and character designer) once said to me, "I just want you to know that no matter what happens, I'm proud of the game in any situation. "This is the most beloved work I have ever worked on and you do not know how much it's worth to me." More than anything else, this is something I am proud of. I am sometimes asked, "Are you anxious to be interviewed or give a talk at E3?" And I'm an introvert, and that brings me a level of anxiety, but I never get more anxious than when I have to speak in front of all the members of Nate Dogg Studio; Because Ivan and I want most of all to make the members of the studio who work on game development proud, because they dedicate a large part of their time to game development. They are very excited and passionate about what they are building. They are the people I want to be most proud of. . : The Last of Us Part II .
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